EFETehran

The hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who was sworn in on Tuesday as Iran's new president, has pledged to improve the country's economy without relying on the outside world.

Raisi assumes power against a backdrop of a crippling economic crisis and water and power shortages in the country amid stalled negotiations with Western powers to rescue the 2015 nuclear agreement.

"We will of course seek the removal of cruel sanctions but we will not condition the economy and the needs of the population to the will of foreigners," he said during his ratification ceremony.

The nuclear talks, which have been put on hold due to the transfer of power in Iran, hope to secure the return of the United States to the agreement, under which Washington would lift its sanctions against Tehran and the Islamic Republic in return would comply with its commitments to limit its nuclear program.

Raisi, who replaces the moderate Hassan Rouhani, said that "what the population wants from the new government is a change", something that "is inevitable and must happen".

To tackle what he sees as the country's main problems -- namely public debt, inflation, the Covid-19 pandemic and the electricity and water shortages -- the president explained that he has designed "a short-term program containing 10 issues" that must be solved, adding that he would unveil a detailed plan for his four-year term ”very soon”.

"The message from the people on election day was that they want change, justice, to fight against poverty and discrimination, and the elimination of social and economic problems," he said.

June's presidential election, in which Raisi won nearly 62% of the vote, was marked by low turnout and an absence of strong rival candidates. EFE

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